My son is struggling a bit in his freshman English class. He has never been a huge fan of reading (a fact that is horrifying to his librarian mother…..maybe that’s why he always says it). Now he’s being required to read longer, more complex texts and analyze them in essay form. This is challenging to him. In addition, there is a student teacher in his classroom. I thought this might be helpful; you know, the young, cool teacher brings out the best in the young students. Wrong. This student teacher is stuck in the era where technology was not integrated into the classroom. He doesn’t use the projector in his room. Shared Google docs seem like they’re foreign to him. I set up a meeting to discuss my son’s progress. The student teacher looked at me like I was crazy when I suggested that, as a parent, it would help me to support my child (read that as: nag on him as needed) if he would post the major due dates for projects, tests, etc. on the calendar in Skyward. He said he didn’t know how to use the calendar feature! I looked to the regular classroom teacher, but he also said he had never used it. Yikes! Then I asked him to electronically share a rubric for an upcoming project so that we could see what the expectations are. Once again, blank stare. He said that he always writes that stuff down on the whiteboard in class. He offered to write it on the board for me so that I could copy it down. Really.
I feel so excited when I think of the technology available to students and staff today. The things I mentioned are actually really SIMPLE technology. I didn’t ask the teacher to create his own website for the class (although that’s a simple task with today’s tools)……..just communicate more effectively and efficiently. This would really benefit everyone in the end. I work in a different district than the one where my son attends school, so I’m not sure I have any pull (OK, I have none), but it is exasperating to me that my son is receiving basically the same kind of English class I received as a student. Except 30 years have passed, people!! I think there is still value in reading the classics and learning to look more deeply at them, I just think that there are much more compelling tools at our disposal these days. Is is too much to ask that teachers be expected to use them?
Here are some of my thoughts about changing this:
Schools for teacher training should make sure that the staff they choose to mentor student teachers are effective users of technology. I really think this is imperative to changing the culture in our schools!
Let’s go one step further…..schools for teacher training should be heavily emphasizing the need for using technology creatively in ANY classroom. Technology should never be used just for the sake of novelty, but in ways that modernize and improve upon educational tasks. How can technology help a teacher? How can technology help students? How can technology improve home/school communication? These should be common themes.
Principals should make sure that part of a teacher’s evaluation is whether they are using technology to enhance education in their classroom.
What other ideas do you have on the topic? I know I’ve only brushed the surface.